Sheriff, deputies rescue toddlers
A frantic hunt for two toddlers who went wandering into the woods from their home on South Chavis Road Wednesday ended about two hours later in their discovery, wet and apparently fine other than being hungry.
Their parents, Daniel Ivan Stokes, 28, and Khandis Maria Stokes, 24, both of 1277 S. Chavis Road, Lot 8, were arrested on two charges each of child abuse, according to Vance County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Joseph Ferguson.
The two boys, one who had just turned 2 years old recently and the other nearing a third birthday, were found by Vance County Sheriff Peter White soon after he joined the search team in a field off Moss Stock Farm Road.
White said the team deserved credit, but he was the one who found them.
“There were about a dozen of us and more were on the way,” White said.
Paul Moss, a neighbor in the area, phoned in to let the sheriff’s office know he saw what he thought was a child in the field. Ferguson said that the call caused an effort already started to be directed to that field.
“Mr. Moss certainly by telling us, that was certainly very fortunate,” Ferguson said.
White said he took a direction opposite of where the others were going. When he found the boys, they had been eating berries.
“They didn’t start crying until I picked them up,” White said. “When I spoke to them and said let’s go home, that’s when they started crying.”
White said he was glad deputies were able to locate them and confirmed the situation, due to the weather, could have been worse.
Vance County Director of Emergency Operations Brian Short had responded to the area of the house from which the boys wandered away. Short said that steps were being taken to bring in added search assets, including specialized aircraft with front-searching infrared detectors.
“We also had air assets on the way from Winston-Salem,” Short said. “The fact that the children were found quickly is testament to the sheriff’s office. Those guys did an outstanding job with securing the area and beginning the search.”
Short said the procedure with a critical missing children incident includes starting with a “hasty search” that uses limited numbers of law enforcement officers from the local area.
“We want limited numbers of personnel so we don’t contaminate the area with too many scents,” Short said.
They start with a last known location, and search outward, preferably in a particular direction of travel if known, all directions if not. Another asset on the way, according to Short, included state K-9 teams.
According to police reports, the call from Khandis Stokes came to 911 dispatchers at 11:19 a.m., and she told a responding deputy that the two boys were last known to be secure at about 10. They were noticed to be missing at 10:35.
Ferguson said the toddlers covered a lot of territory for that time frame.
“It is a long distance for toddlers to travel,” Ferguson said. “It is apparent that they had been unattended for quite a long time. An initial search of the residence, surrounding woods and homes in the neighborhood was conducted.”
The team effort included a deputy with his K-9 partner, a bloodhound used for tracking.
“The time we were on scene to when the children were found was about two hours,” Ferguson said. “This is currently under further investigation.”
The boys were both taken to Maria Parham Medical Center for evaluation after being found, according to reports.
Khandis and Daniel Stokes posted $1,000 bond each for release from jail pending a Vance County District Court hearing scheduled for Dec. 9.
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